I realize I have spent a lot of time on the Lord’s second word. So, just for a reminder, I want you to read it again:
“Never have any other god. Never make your own carved idols or statues that represent any creature in the sky, on the earth, or in the water. Never worship them or serve them, because I, Yahweh your Elohim, am a jealous (impassioned) God demanding what is rightfully and uniquely mine. I punish children for their parents’ sins to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. But I show mercy to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my commandments (Exodus 20:3-6)
The one that confuses me, is where it says that God is a jealous God. That one has always bothered me. Think about it. When we think of a man or woman being jealous it is in a negative way. In some ways when we are jealous, it is revealing serious faults in our relationships (even if there is reasonable cause for it). I kind of hinted at the meaning of the word, because in Hebrew, the word is Qanna. And, it is most often translated into English as jealousy. However, there is another word, Qinah, which also means jealousy.
Similar, right? Well, the difference between the two is that Qinah is used some 43 times in the Old Testament, and each time, it refers to human emotions. However, Qanna is reserved explicitly (and exclusively) to a characteristic of Yahweh. Qinah is used when it referring to human jealousy between lovers, or when we are jealous of someone else’s wealth; possessions; opportunities. You know, when you have to weather the snow, but your friend gets to go to the Bahama’s for several weeks. That is the one most of us can relate to.
On the other hand, Qanna, isn’t so much about jealousy as about being passionate; no, no. not like the erotic form of passion, but rather in the sense of great intensity, of being impassioned towards an ideal or person. It is how we are called to be drawn to our Heavenly Father. When we are speaking of our Lord’s passion, it is referring to Him in all His unwavering righteousness! So, when we read it in this verse, it is saying that Yahweh will accept no rivals, that He is utterly and absolutely intolerant of sins against Him.
Then, continuing into the fifth verse and onto the sixth verses, Yahweh spoke of punishing the children of those who violate the second word, on into the third and fourth generations, but . . . wait for it . . . showing mercy to everyone who loves Him (love meaning an intentional loyalty and obedience to Him) into the 1000th generation.
Yeah, it sounds unfair, but we need to understand what He was saying. First, the easy part of this: saying “into the third and fourth generations” is a Hebrew idiom or figurative speech, in the same way, that “into the 1000th generation” is an idiom.
The first expression means for a time, but not forever, your descendants will be affected by your sin. Now, for the most part, this isn’t surprising. Let me give you a perfect description of how this can look. When we are raising our children, they are continually watching us and learn our positive, as well as, our negative attitudes and opinions. They see you snap at other drivers. They hear the words you say about the person in front of you. They hear us speaking, in all of our “glory,” and they will repeat it. They see how we react to situations and how we relate to various (and specific) people So, yes! We are easily teaching our children. The same is with your anger at different people and bigoted attitudes. They see everything you do and hear everything you say. So, if you are a disciple of Jesus, you better start watching and controlling (instead of excusing) your tongue and behavior.
Now, we explained that the first expression means “for a time, but not forever.” However, the second expression, regarding the 1000th generation, it means “forever.” In other words, Yahweh’s wrath as a result of a man‘s sin is for a short time (three and four generations), while His mercy and kindness are symbolizing a much longer period of time (1000 generations!).
Now another stark contrast is drawn using absolute and powerful words: those who obey this second Commandment love Yahweh, while those who disobey it hate Yahweh. Ooh, Love vs. hate. Two extremes, with no middle ground. Yes, we can appeal by saying, “but . . . but . . . but . . . even though I may have ignorantly violated this Word, I don‘t hate God, I love Him.” Hmm, that‘s like telling your wife, “Gee Honey, I love you so much I meant to stop at the store and buy you some flowers.”
The problem is that this command is, as are all of His commands, presented from Yahweh‘s point of view and not ours. Our “point of view is irrelevant. Yahweh is telling us that as far as He is concerned the one who violates this Word, is demonstrating hate towards Him. Man oh man, that‘s tough! But, you may as well know, that sound tough, and it may irritate you, but that is how it is.
Yet He also sees the one who obeys this second Word as loving Him. Does that mean that even a non-Believer who consciously obeys this command, Yahweh views as loving Him? Yep. That is exactly what it means.
My friends, “loving our God has never been the requirement for Salvation. Trusting Him, in the form of His Son Jesus, is the requirement for Salvation. On the coming day of Judgment, millions, probably billions of people who profess to love Yahweh (in their own kind of way) will be condemned for all eternity — because even though in their minds they loved God, they never trusted Him enough to accept the saving provision of His Son! They will hear, “Sorry, I never knew you.”
On the other hand, a disciple, someone who is sworn to be His servant, can be found violating this principle and Yahweh regard them as hating Him. Huh? Yes, Yahweh can look on a Believer as hating Him, even though that Believer is eternally secured in Christ. Why? That doesn’t make sense! Well, let me explain what I mean. The only relevant issue for Salvation is trusting Jesus.
Don‘t get all hung up on the love/hate issue. For centuries, Christians have had this mistaken impression that Biblical love and hate are about feelings and emotions. According to the Scriptures, which is all we have to follow, we are expressing our “love” through our actions! This also applies to our hate. Jesus made this clear when He said, “If you really love Me, you will obey My commandments” (John 14:15). So what loving God amounts to is doing what He commands or avoiding what He prohibits, while hating God is the opposite. It really isn’t very difficult to understand. We get messed up when we try to keep trying to include our emotions. Faith is not an emotion! As one writer put it, “Faith is trust, assurance, and confidence in God. Living faith is shown by service and obedience to God. God will increase our faith if we fervently ask and draw close to Him.” Our faith will increase as we draw closer to our Father through our fellowship, our prayers and studying His Word!
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